I know, I am coming a bit late today for this weekly appointment, but I wnated to share with you this beautiful recipe, perfect comfort food for every time of the year. It is deliciously vegan and you won’t regret making it.
The reason I am dedicating a whole post to this recipe is because is the perfect comfort food: it is easy to make and tastes divinely, while also maintaining a certain healthiness as you can use your homemade gnocchi (so that you knwo what the ingredients are).
This Vegan Gnocchi Bake is nutricious, with shallots, mushrooms and broccoli. At the same time it’s also very tasty because of the gnocchi themselves, the flavoursome bechamel sauce and the vegan cheese.
It requires no effort, while returning an amazing result.
I made it now three times and never disappoints: try it to believe it!
I got the idea for this challenge while talking with a friend: he was thinking of attending a literature course of 10 weeks, and part of it consisted of reading 5 books selected for said course, meaning that he would have had to read 5 books in 10 weeks. Now, the whole thing of reading something a list of books in a set time, reminded me way too much of school times when you had to read specific books during the summer holidays, so I had no real interest in the course my friend was talking about (too much of a free spirit here!). But I really liked the idea of having a set time to read some books: I love a nice challenge, and I love challenging myself in doing something (also kind of competitive, here).
A Bit Of Background
I have always been an avid reader, often preferring reading to go out playing with the other kids (having being bullied a lot as a kid, books were offering an oasis of peace and a break from the outer world). Long story short, the past two years I have been unable to read much (it took me 4 months to finish Middlemarch despite loving every page of it!) because I was focusing a lot on gaining a professional registration. And I really missed reading, diving deep into other worlds, other stories, learning new stuff thanks to non-fiction books, etc.
It is true that when one has spent after several hours focussing on work it is oh so easy to just collapse on the sofa or on the bed binge-watching all that TV has to offer. Same goes for the weekend because you need to recharge from the past week and at the same time you have to mentally prepare for the week ahead.
Hence this Challenge
If you, like me, are someone who likes to read but have been putting off that pile of books for a while, for a reason or for another – life happens -; or maybe you have been reading but not at your usual pace, so you want to go back to your rhythm; or perhaps you just want to start reading. Then this challenge is for you!
How It Works
The idea is to read 5 books in 10 weeks. “Which books?” you may ask. Well, that’s up to you, there are no restrictions on genres, on fiction or non-fiction, comic books, audiobooks: anything that inspires you, go for it!
All you need to do is to dedicate at least 30 minutes to reading, that’s all that this challenge is asking you. Any time during the day: being first thing in the morning during breakfast, or at lunchtime or in the evening. I personally feel that I can better commit to this challenge in the evening, after dinner: I usually watch something during my dinner (one episode of some show), then that’s it, I start to read. But I tell you, 30 minutes fly very quickly and I end up reading for the next 2-3 hours and being late for sleepy time!
There are so many benefits that you gain from reading: it ameliorates your vocabulary, helps to relieve stress, improve sleep and much more (you can read some more here and here)! Plus you learn stuff by reading non-fiction books (from biographies to science/history/philosophy/art/and so on books), you get into different worlds (from utopian to dystopian ones, from places in the outer space to fantastic worlds), but most importantly you’ll have a great time.
Choose your first book (physical, electronic, audiobook, comic, etc.), open it and start reading those first lines – letting yourself go into the world you chose for these first two weeks. Remember, the main purpose of this challenge is to enjoy yourself!
Let me know if you want to start the challenge, which book you chose as your first, or just if you’re thinking of starting it: I’ll be here if you need any help.
This menu for an all-vegan Easter is brought to you after carefully selecting the best springy recipes so that you can enjoy a tasty Easter without harming any animal nor the environment. What can you ask more?!
During these holidays there are many blogs that will give you 30+ recipes suitable for such events. Now, I don’t know about you, but I find it a bit overwhelming, especially if all the recipes look so good making it difficult to select the “right ones” (there obviously are not “right” recipes, but I mean it in the sense that are best for how you are feeling on the day, how much you want to cook, what do the Moon and the rest of the Cosmos suggesting, etc.). So, looking around, searching my favourite vegan blogs, I selected those course that I think would make a nice menu for Easter 2021.
[I was going to suggest a potato salad – the Roast Potato Salad – YumVeganLunches – but I also understand that you might have had the Devied Potatoes as an appetiser so this recipe is only if you’re feeling extra (after all it’s holiday, so why not?)].
Disclaimer: This post doesn’t want to give any medical advice. I am merely sharing my experience, and What I do to get through these days/weeks when I am affected by SAD.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)? You probably heard about people feeling low when Winter comes, usually feeling quite low and lethargic. These are just some of the symptoms of this peculiar illness, that doesn’t affect many people, but still, it is taken into consideration by the medical profession and the health services. It is estimated that 3 out of 100 people in the U.K. suffers from SAD, while it is six per cent of the U.S.A. population. The idea is that coming Winter, there is less exposition to the sunlight and this affects your mood and metabolism. However, this can potentially happen at the change of any season.
The SAD that affects me is mostly of physical nature, but you’ll read that this can heavily affect mental health.
As I was telling you in this post, this is something that affects me, but in the opposite way. When Spring arrives, when Nature is reborn and birds are chirping and the trees are in blossom, that’s when I feel at my lowest: my energy level drops drastically, my ability to focus falters, I get gastrointestinal problems, etc. This has been happening for years: I have always felt low mood as soon as the warm weather arrives and much less energetic compared to Autumn or Winter. I have been reflecting on this and I think this goes back to my childhood when I was being bullied for having a big bottom (90s child, the time when fashion icons were skinny, with pop idols of the time having a more androgynous look): it was easier to cover in Winter but less so in Spring and Summer, creating even more uncomfortability (it didn’t help that even my family were all commenting that I should have lost some weight – but let me be clear: I wasn’t obese, probably slightly overweight and a bit weirdly shaped as my stomach was flat, like a table): obviously, I wasn’t happy to go to the beach and wearing bathing suits.
It might be that, or it might just be that I don’t agree with a warm climate (hence I moved from a Mediterranean country to the U.K.): who knows.
I have accepted this thing, I know it comes every year, I know that I can do less than what I would do in Autumn and Winter. Also, this disorder brings gastrointestinal issues: one year it was so bad that I lost 20 pounds in one month because I couldn’t eat much otherwise I would suffer from stomach cramps for the following hour (I am talking about those cramps where you have to lie-down, folded in half, without being able to move because the pain is that much). One of the few foods that I could eat was plain white bread because it soothed the stomach, a bit of oily pasta and sauteed veggies. It wasn’t fun. Some people say that it’s just stress and these are the signs of a near-burnout. But I know when I am stressed, yes my stomach might have some issues, but this is different: what I feel during these weeks is unlike the state of mind and body that I experience when I am working too much, say, in October, or when I have too many things going on (personal and work-related).
I learned to accept that my organism and that my body reacts to the seasons in different ways. I know that I have to go easy on myself when I feel like this, that I have to reduce overly complicated foods, go easy on the work that I can take as well as the physical exercise that I can do. Integrating more wholesome ingredients and habits is key to successfully survive the next few weeks for me. This year I felt it a bit more than usual: persistent brain fog and I don’t have that much stamina (at the beginning of March for three days I could barely making it from the bed to the sofa in order to work and then feed the cat – most important task). While I decided to implement some changes in my habits to see if they can help with this year’s symptoms (started jogging – twice a week for 15 minutes -, being more persistent with daily exercises – every day for 20-30 minutes, plus the same amount of time for yoga -), I found that I was feeling well in the morning but having a drastic drop of energy in the afternoon. So at the moment, I am at the end of a week of only yoga and I am feeling a bit better. I’ll go back to my usual rhythm in the next weeks.
As I am already working a 9-5 job, finding the mental strength to dedicate to the blog, at this time is a bit challenging, and that’s why I am posting a bit less and mostly at the weekend (be patient with me, pleeaase!).
Oily pasta is still a must during this time, but I integrate with some pulses (mostly white beans, sauteed, and veggies like spinach ad kale). A great aid is fennel: raw with some olive oil, or boiled, is great to soothe gastritis. You can also drink the water after you boiled it as a warm beverage to calm the gastrointestinal tract.
As well as pasta, I can easily eat plain white bread: unfortunately, the bread that I find at the supermarket is always full of extra useless ingredients, so I decided to make a batch of bread once a week, freeze some of it so that I can take it out when I am unable to bake some fresh bread. Really any recipe that doesn’t require too much effort in the making of the dough, is perfect during this period. Also, when you start making your own bread it will be difficult to go back to the store-bought one. There are so many recipes around, you just need to try them and see which one gives you the best result and munch on it! I’ll leave you some recipes below.
At some point, when I was still finding about this disorder, I went to the GP: they sent me for abdomen ultrasounds, a colonoscopy and many blood tests, to find out that was all regular. So, they prescribed both Maalox and Diazepam: I can tell you that while they were not useful at all, the second at least was kind of fun to take for a little bit.
Now I much prefer to see what my body needs, how it reacts and respect it. Sounds a bit hippie? Well, I don’t care, I don’t want to take drugs when I can fix the problem with tuning in with myself, especially since my symptoms are not in the extreme of the SAD spectrum.
I hope this gave you a better idea of the Seasonal Affective Disorder, and maybe now that you know something about it and you have always been wondering why you are feeling a bit low come the change of season, you might understand that you have SAD but more importantly, you are not alone.